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Fault Line Found Under Japan's Oldest Reactor

Potential for Another Fukushima

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By Swagato Chakravorty
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Japan’s nuclear troubles continue. Recently, geologists asserted that an earthquake fault line might be situated right underneath the location of the country’s oldest reactor.

Japan Atomic Power Co. oversees the Tsuruga nuclear facility, situated around 79 miles northeast of Osaka. The geological discovery, made this week, depressed shares of Japan Atomic's major shareholders Kansai Electric Power Co. (TYO: 9503) and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TYO: 9501), of Fukushima notoriety.

The find could lead to a shutdown in the entire facility. And this may be just as well; Japan can definitely not afford another Fukushima.

Bloomberg reports:

“The assessment raises the risk” that the nuclear watchdog will come to a similar conclusion for other atomic generators under investigation, Reiji Ogino, a Tokyo-based analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley, said by phone today.

Currently, Japan’s only active reactors are housed at Kansai’s Ohi plant. It is one of six nuclear facilities under investigation by the Nuclear Regulation Authority for active fault lines, Bloomberg reports.

Japan Atomic is contesting the NRA’s claim, saying the fault line is not active. “Active” is defined by the NRA as having shifted within the past 120,000-130,000 years. But the reactors in question are currently offline as investigations proceed.

Presently, just two out of Japan’s 50 reactors are active following Fukushima. The NRA has said that it will issue new guidelines by July of next year, and any re-openings will be contingent on those guidelines.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. closed down 1.4 percent after the Monday announcement, but shares were up 2.17 percent on Wednesday. Kansai Electric Power Co. is also up 0.94 percent after closing down 4.4 percent on Monday.

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